ENJOY £3.50 SPIKED SHAKES THIS WORLD WHISKY DAY

 

BRGR.CO are hitting it hard this World Whisky Day by adding a bit of booze to their popular shakes. On Saturday 21st May, for the awesome price just £3.50, visitors who want to get merry with their milkshakes can add a shot of liquor in the form of Four Roses Bourbon when they take a photo of their BRGR.CO meal, tagging @BRGRCOUK and using the hashtag #WorldWhiskyDay.
BRGR.CO ice-cream shakes are available in the scrumptious flavours of strawberry, Oreo, chocolate and vanilla, and taste incredible when given a pep from Four Roses Bourbon. This mellow Kentucky Bourbon has tasting notes of caramel, vanilla, cocoa and maple syrup, complementing the delicious creaminess perfectly.
Go hard or go home this World Whisky Day at BRGR.CO!

The Negroni Bar Pop Up @ Red Gallery, Shoreditch

It’s here!

We all heard it was the year of the aperitif, and drinks like the Negroni have gathered steam incredibly swiftly in the past few years. Many bars could testify that they fly off the shelves, and with that, Campari has brought London a pop up bar with the largest selection of Negronis in the world!

A celebration of Campari and the iconic cocktail, the #RediscoverRed Negroni Bar has taken over the Shoreditch Red Gallery from the 11th to 21st May 2016! 30 Negroni twists prepared by bars from across the globe have all come down to London for this week. And that’s not all, a selection of East London legends from Happiness Forgets to Casita will be serving their own twists at their own venues for Negroni Week.

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar

Boozy history lesson (at least one that the Hoodooist picked up along the way, and with alcohol – who the hell actually fact checks these things): the Bitter Florio that would inspire Campari was invented not far from the Targa Florio race track by the Sicilian Florio family – the original recipe being basically spices and herbs, cochineal beetles for colour, a touch of water, and well. Race car fuel.

Because apparently drinking fuel in the middle of the race was kinda dangerous and the drivers were up for something that tasted less like certain death.

You can see why I love Sicily, yes?

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar

The smoky venue is absolutely smothered with gorgeous artwork celebrating Campari’s rich heritage, ads and posters from across the 20th Century are filled with tales that the staff can fill you in on. Be smart and grab a seat at the bar because this place is gonna get rammed.

Having prepared ourselves for the massive list, we went for a couple of similar twists that both used one of the Hoodooist’s favourite ingredients: Cynar artichoke bitter.

 

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar

Round 1!

It’s 6PM, our chats with Ben from Casita is taking us through the menu, and we already know what we want:

The Harbord Room, Toronto brought in The Bittersweet Melodies – Campari, Cinzano Bianco vermouth, Cynar, Bulldog gin and orange bitters for a classic dry Negroni with the rounded smoothness of the Cynar, along with its slightly smoky, savoury flavour – a fun and classic twist to the classic cocktail, and a good one to lead with. A fab choice, highly recommended.

Up against it, Knokke’s The Pharmacy brings in The Belgian – which doesn’t sound very, well, Belgian. Campari, Appleton Estate rum, Cinzano Rosso vermouth and beloved Cynar. Bit on the sweet side, flavour notes are slightly conflicted, spices and treacle. It is still a decent drink, but when set up against The Bittersweet Melodies in the same round, pales.

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar

The Sao Paulo!

Round 2!

Harry and Jay of Loves Company are here! Which basically means we’re already throwing back whiskey. Already seeing tomorrow’s forecast

The Sao Paulo versus the Mezcal and Hum!

The Sao Paulo is actually the booziest one of the night, but you wouldn’t tell it!

I myself still need to be sold on coffee cocktails, but if they’re your style, then the smooth and long Sao Paulo will provide you with a sweet mix of Campari, Aperol, Vermouth, Gin and coffee. The sweet flavours really stand out, quite surprisingly – fruit from the Aperol and vermouth simmer as the coffee dominates the orange citrus cocktail.

And then there’s the Mezcal and Hum Negroni. Muscling in with powerful flavours inspired by the home of their bar, the Manhattan in Singapore, Campari meets Mancino Rosso vermouth, Alipus Baltazar mezcal, and the Hum liqueur made from hibiscus, ginger, kaffir lime and cardamom. A complex, dry and seductive cocktail, powerfully smoky, with spicy sweet notes from the mezcal pepperiness, hibiscus and vermouth – matched by the citrus herbal notes of the kaffir, ending on a finish of ginger and cardamom.

Love. Love. Love. This. Cocktail.

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar

The Mezcalito, and The Morocco!

Round 3!

Chats with the ambassador of Aperol after spraying him with soda at the Aperol Terrazza in Smithfield is always a pleasure – should be because you got to respect anyone who makes Aperol Spritzes blindfolded (yes, really).

The Mezcalito by Mauro’s Negroni Club Munich brings some ingredients I love together: Campari, Cinzano 1757 vermouth, mezcal and Cynar, and yet…. Somehow it doesn’t quite stand up to the Mezcal and Hum.

Maybe it is clashing flavours. Maybe the black salt and cinnamon rim is just a bit too much (which it definitely is). I really wanted to enjoy this, but sadly, sometimes mixing things you love to together doesn’t work out. Like turducken?

The Morocco came all the way from the Mai Thai bar in Marrakech! Campari, Bulldog gin, Cinzano Rosso vermouth, peach liqueur with a garnish of date and rose petals.

All I could taste was peach.

Draw? Draw.

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar portside parlour

PortSide Parlour’s Vintage Negroni, and Vin Tonique!

Round 4!

 

Alright, we have wandered from the wonderful Negroni Bar to PortSide Parlour on Rivington for their Negroni Week specials – it’s the Vin Tonique against the (insider’s tip, ssh): Vintage Negroni!

Alright, the Vin Tonique, we have Campari, Plantation 3* rum, Byrrh, absinthe, and Angostura bitters. Hm. I will be honest here, it’s sweet and powerfully herbal and though my friend enjoyed this, I couldn’t help but think of mouthwash. Perhaps either the Byrrh or absinthe tipped it over here, and wonder what it would be like without one of them.

The Vintage Negroni is…is honeyed hedonism. Bottles of Campari, Martini Rosso vermouth, and Plymouth gin from the 1980s are mixed to prepare a classic Negroni – with all the flavours you love with an added aged roundedness and sweetness. Powerful honey finishes made this a drink I absolutely adore. An absolute must try.

Red Gallery RediscoverRed Campari Negroni Bar Casita

Casita’s Red Rosita!

And where else does a night end?!

Casita has us again, with their obscenely well-priced Red Rosita: Campari, El Jimador Reposado tequila, Antica Formula vermouth, and a Grenache/Syrah blend for a smooth, long cocktail with bite. Complexity from the wine, the winter fruit warmth of the Antica, the peppery naughtiness of the El Jimador, and of course – the bitter Campari – all make for a wonderful combo.

A great way to end the evening.

 

Negroni Week is an amazing opportunity to witness how London and the world interpret the classic legendary cocktail that is the Negroni, and the Campari’s Negroni Bar is the way to do it! A casual, fun atmosphere and banging drinks makes this a pop up this spring that you do not want to miss.

So go ahead, and #RediscoverRed.

Salute!

The Negroni Bar @ The Red Gallery
11th – 21st May

1-3 Rivington St, Shoreditch
London EC2A 3DT

http://rediscover.red/

 

Yelp London’s Food Festival of the Future!

Welcome… TO THE FUTURE!

London is home to the best food, drink and technology in the world and we’d like to invite you to join us as we head to the future. This will be a day of not just food and technology but upcoming food trends (speciality cafes, organic eateries, unique delivery apps) and the miraculous marvels of the modern day world like virtual reality, robots and drones!

Entrance is a free check-in on Yelp or £10 to charity. RSVP now. There are no +1s so invite your friends to sign up as well. No one is going to want to miss this ticket to the future…

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IN SHORT…

Here’s all you need to know about the event:

DATE: Sunday, May 22nd.
12pm: Yelp Elites (yelp.co.uk/elite)
1 to 10pm: Event Doors Open!

FOOD AND DRINKS: Light samples only and then food for purchase.
ATMOSPHERE: Casual
SIZE OF THE EVENT: BIG!

SPOTS GIVEN OUT ON: Right up until the day of the event!
COST – Free
OPEN TO – Everyone who RSVPs, but…*

*PLEASE NOTE: Event places will first be given to those who know London, have an opinion about it and are happy to share it!  So, to get a place, you will need to have recent photos, reviews or tips on your Yelp page to prove it!

IN THE FUTURE, YOU’LL EXPERIENCE…

FOOD FROM…
Bad Ass Cakes (yelp.co.uk/biz/bad-ass-c…)
Big Apple Hot Dogs (yelp.co.uk/biz/big-apple…)
ChicP (chicp.co.uk)
Chipper (twitter.com/spilling_gre…)
Emily Crisps (emilyfruitcrisps.co.uk)
Lic Ice Cream (havealic.com)
Pan de Vie (pandevie.com)
Propercorn (propercorn.com)
The Canvas Cafe (yelp.co.uk/biz/the-canva…)
Smith & Sinclair (smithandsinclair.co.uk)
Snact (snact.co.uk)

DRINKS FROM…
Aspall Cider (aspall.co.uk)
Bubbleology (yelp.co.uk/biz/bubbleolo…)
Harviestoun Brewery (harviestoun.com)

AND AMAZING TECHNOLOGY AND ENTERTAINMENT FROM…
Bounce | The Home of Ping Pong (yelp.co.uk/biz/bounce-lo…)
The Doodle Man (thedoodleman.co.uk)
Enviro-Cool (v-tex-technology.com)
The Flying Cam (theflyingcam.co.uk)
HelloFresh (hellofresh.co.uk)
ICEBAR (yelp.co.uk/biz/icebar-lo…)
Mucho (getmucho.com)
simplehuman (simplehuman.com/uk)
SuperBooths Europe (yelp.co.uk/biz/superboot…)
Tellspec (tellspec.com)
Trybe (try.be)
Visualise (visualise.com)
Vodkaluge (vodkaluge.co.uk)

RSVP now and we’ll see you… in the future.

http://www.futurefoodfest.co.uk/

The Spirit of Sharing Tasting, @ The Embassy of Ireland

Some of you might still be reeling from the craziness of this year’s St. Paddy’s Day (ouch Sun Tavern, ouch Whisky Live), but whether or not you’re still wearing (feeling) green (or still pretending to be Irish), this year’s explosion of Irish whiskeys and poitins onto the London cocktail scene is making some of the Scots lowkey panic.

As for the English whisky distilleries..Well. Um.

Anyway.

We now enter the ballroom of the Irish Embassy, South Ken, where the Bord Bia Irish food board and brought in some of the biggest, and growing, names in Irish spirits to taste, in the company of award winning drinks writer Dominic Roskrow, and Charlie McCarthy of Tullamore Dew and All About the Cocktail fame!

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Let’s have a stroll and look at some of the outstanding spirits we have on show today!

Before the whiskey classics, let’s get on to whiskey’s ancient ancestor and fairly recent and exciting on the London scene – the potent Poitin has been released after its four century long ban from 1997.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Bán Poitín!

Introduced in 2013, Bán Poitín by Dave Mulligan and Cara Humphreys has dominated the UK Poitin market, and are staples at The Sun Tavern, and Discount Suit Co. An industry darling, and rightfully so: the sugarbeet and barley spirit is strongly malty, slightly sweet, and goes down wonderfully with a stout.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Glendalough Sherry Cask Poitin – Picture courtesy of: http://www.glendaloughdistillery.com

Stored in virgin Irish Oak, the Glendalough Poitin range provides variety.

The standard Glendalough Poitin comes with a similar bread palate, with pepper and oak, with a subtle creaminess. The (wonderful!) Sherry Cask Finished Poitin has a beautiful nose of orange and spicy sweetness, a toasty palate of fruit and spice, and long sherry finish. Finally, the Mountain Strength is bold with barley, fruit and oak. Spectacular stuff.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Bertha’s Revenge! Picture courtesy of: http://ballyvolanespirits.ie/

How about something a little different? We’re seeing a lot of gin from Ireland, and one of the more intriguing ones is Bertha’s Revenge, a milk gin by Ballyvolane House. A beautifully creamy mouthfeel on sweet almond and spicy cardamom and cloves, followed by a lip-smackingly dry citrus finish. It’s been a while since gin got the Hoodooist’s attention – and Bertha certainly did.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Kerrygold Irish Cream! Picture courtesy of: http://kerrygoldirishcream.com/

Let’s look at the lighter stuff: We can’t do Ireland without Irish Cream, and classic Kerrygold doesn’t overwhelm you with sweetness compared to many.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The fun Flaming Pig!

And the gloves were off with the liqueurs. The Flaming Pig spiced whiskey liqueur is melded with cinnamon, black pepper and cloves, ready for a ludicrously silly drinking game. Initial sweet whiskey flavours are immediately followed by powerful spice to set you off.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Highbank Irish Orchard Liqueur Brandey – Picture Courtesy of: https://highbankorchards.com/

Made from organic apples, the Highbank Orchard Liqueur Brandey is fantastic after lunch on the riverside, filled with bright apple, ginger and cinnamon flavours.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Clever Man’s Ejector Seat Turf Smoked Stout

The stouts came out to play: Clever Man’s Ejector Seat Turf Smoked Stout certainly changed the Hoodooist’s mind about the drink, jet black, with peaty nose. A powerfully smoked palate, coffee, and light notes of TCP, with a dry bittersweet finish – this is an Islay Whisky as a stout. Love.

And there is the White Hag’s Black Boar Stout, rich, bitter – the nose is peaty. The palate is malty and smoky, with vanilla, chocolate, treacle and oak thrown in, with a bit of bite. Nom.

 

I guess we’re on to what everyone’s waiting for! The Whiskeys are classics, good old Jameson, Teeling, and the Liberties.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Jameson Range!

The Jameson family is all out tonight!

We all know the sweet, Madeira and marmalade flavours of the Jameson Irish Whiskey classic. The Crested 10 is a potent mix of grain, pot still, and sherry casks: full and rich, smooth and light before swelling into spice, red fruit and chocolate, over a toasted sherry notes. The Select Reserve Black Barrel aka Small Batch, focuses more on grain and pot still, with double charred barrels. Creamy, and thick. Warm winter flavours of dates, overripe fruit, cinnamon and orange zest are followed by a lengthy finish of nutmeg and cinnamon. The most recent addition, the Caskmates, is given a stout finish – the fruits and chocolate of Jameson is now coupled with hoppy maltiness for a fabulous modern whiskey.

Probably the star of the family, the award-winning Redbreast 12 is rich and nutty, with marzipan and almond – a long sherried finish is spicy and sweet. A gorgeous whiskey worth shelling out on.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The blurry Teeling Trio

Of course Teeling is here!

We know the Single Malt: Light, peppery, cinnamon – peppered with floral notes. The Single Grain is more adventurous: Be ready for cereal flavours with spice and treacle, custard plays around here too. A spry spirit, that. Finally, the gorgeous Small Batch: rich with floral notes, spiced with cinnamon and other herbs, a creamy creme brulee at the end. Wonderful and flamboyant.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

The Dublin Liberties Oak Devil – Picture courtesy of: http://www.marblehead.uk.com/

They say an oak-carved devil stood over the gates of a place nicknamed Hell in the Liberties of Dublin. They also say that oak was soon used for whiskey barrels – explaining the name of The Dublin Liberties‘s whiskey: Oak Devil. Expect a lot of caramel, spice and pepper, followed by warm winter notes of Christmas. Love this little tipple.

Ireland Irish London Spirit of Sharing Stout Cocktails Whiskey Poitin

Charlie McCarthy’s customised cocktail

Let’s end the night with Charlie McCarthy’s gorgeous customised cocktail! A mix of Tullamore Dew whiskey, PX sherry, chilli tincture and whiskey barrel aged bitters: a sweet, deep, spicy and rich concoction made the perfect nightcap.

Night, all – and dream of what Ireland has to offer us in the coming year!

Cocktails in the City 2016!

For it’s third year in a row, Cocktails in the City came in for the weekend 10th-12th March and knock out 1000s of cocktails for thirsty Londoners, this time at the majestic One Mayfair (Hogwarts with alcohol, basically) – Last year’s CitC Summer Edition brought 25 bars representing several spirit brands together under the sunny skies at Bedford Square Gardens where 2,000 Londoners came down over 2 days to try a whopping 7,724 cocktails!

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Bars and a representing brand set up stalls where bartenders presented the brand in a cocktail of their devising to the public for judging, with scores gathered at the end of the weekend judging best cocktails, and best stalls – let’s give a hand to last year’s winners: Best Cocktail by Coq d’Argent, and best stand by Loves Company!

Now, let’s have a look at the best of the 2016!

Cocktails in the city london 2016

First up, the Looking Glass Cocktail Club, Shoreditch – harking back to Maker’s Mark’s history as breadmakers, this cocktail is inspired by Italy’s sweet panettone bread loaf and it’s potent almond flavour.

The Maker’s Baker cocktail mixes Maker’s Mark whiskey, cider reduction with winter spice, Americano vermouth, ‘Liquid Panettone’, and Sinner Bitters. A sweet wintery Manhattan with heavy mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and spices, with lingering almond certainly took centre stage with it’s innovative homemade creations of ‘liquid panettone’ and spiced cider reduction.

Other cocktails presented by LGCC included the Honey Loaf, and Fig Muffin – each an excellent rendition on the baker/distiller theme.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Another whisky contender that stole some attention was the Golden Square by last year’s winners, Coq d’Argent, and Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve.

Mixing the scotch with Earl Grey syrup, fresh lemon juice, Old Time Bitters, bitter orange marmalade, topped up with Lachamte Hideyoshi sparkling sake, garnished with orange zest and edible orchid – the Golden Square is a light, refreshing drink, with an edge of whisky, and depth from the Earl Grey. The floral sake and marmalade is uplifting, and surprisingly soft. A well balanced drink for Spring if there ever was one.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Another star came from the OXO Tower Bar with the Love Buzz: Patron Tequila, rose syrup, yuzu, and strawberry infused Cocchi Vermouth – silky and delicate. An initial hit of strawberry mellows to a light tequila tang and bright rose, ending with a pale citrus of yuzu.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Whiskey Ginger brought out recent release Pogues Irish Whiskey with the Irish Rover, including H by Hine Cognac, Orange bitters, Benedictine, caster sugar and mint: a light, bright whiskey cocktail with some herbal tartness. Next door, the Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar kicked out a much harder short whiskey and cognac cocktail with the Sunset Sazerac: Strawberry infused Maxime Trijol VSOP Cognac, Coconut washed Rittenhouse Straight Rye, gomme, Peychaud and Pineapple bitters. In the face of powerful flavours like Rittenhouse and Trijol, many of the lighter ones drifted off – but still a fabulous cocktail for Sazerac fans (even without the absinthe!)

Cocktails in the city london 2016

68 and Boston surprised with a good cocktail: the Spirit of Adventure was a well balanced drink that didn’t overdo the sherry: Burleigh’s London Dry Gin, Amontillado sherry, apricot liqueur, hibiscus syrup and lemon juice created a fruity, citrus touched cocktail with a hint of dryness than would be a crowd-pleaser.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

We can’t leave without a hand to some amazing cocktails by our international visitors!

Little Red Door Paris brought in mystery cocktails – one powerfully Laphroaig was long and refreshing, but a short, perfumey cocktail of absinthe, Islay whisky and Chartreuse was also a clear winner.

Door 74 Amsterdam was spectacular with their Old Fashioned T&T: Woodford Reserve whiskey, Pekoe Ceylon tea liqueur infused with mandarin, orange and speculaas spices, maple syrup, and whiskey barrel aged bitters – a sweet Old Fashioned with kick and no shame in being both potent and flamboyant – garnished with a caramel pancake biscuit. Nom.

Cocktails in the city london 2016

Honourable mentions include Dishoom and Lanique Rose Spirit bringing a Julepy retelling of scandal from the last Viceroy of India; while The Whip and Chase Vodka brings the Radler back into style. Reverend JW Simpson, as ever, bursts in with a double production with Sauvelle Vodka in a chaste vanilla Martini, and a sinfully spicy punch.

And that was only a small taste of what dominated in the cavernous halls of One Mayfair on 10th March! The Hoodooist still believes this is one of London’s top cocktail events of the year, and cannot wait for next.

Tickets for Cocktails in the City London, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh can be bought at:

http://www.cocktailsinthecity.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

Baijiu Cocktail Week 2016

Welcome to Baijiu Cocktail Week 2016!
Every Chinese New Year, for one week, the ‘white spirit’ takes over London to test London’s bartenders with a spirit the city isn’t that familiar with – and this beginning of the Year of the Monkey isn’t different.

From the 5th to 14th of Feb 2016: 9 venues across London, 9 different cocktails, 5 of which will be reviewed in this post. The Hoodooist and friends hit the road to tour the town for Baijiu deliciousness.

Chinese New Year

Firstly, Baijiu is an intriguing spirit, never quite becoming a permanent fixture in the London bar scene – something drinks giant Diageo is trying to change – with their signature Sichuan province ‘strong aroma’ Shui Jing Fang Baijiu. Made with sorghum, rice, glutinous rice, wheat and corn, it ain’t called ‘strong aroma’ for nothing. Neat, the scent can be detected from a mile away, a flowery aromatic with hints of rice, it tastes surprisingly different, but surprisingly similar.

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Been called everything from ‘flowery’, ‘apricot’ to ‘burnt rice’ and ‘with a Maris otter barley length’, it is definitely an acquired taste. But the length and aftertaste’s similarities to scotch is undeniable. This is a smoky spirit for the harder-livered amongst us. A burnt, spicy start, with a long finish, Chinese proverbs state that it takes 300 shots to really appreciate Baijiu. The Hoodooist must admit, it’s acquired, but one he can see himself acquiring.

The perk of Baijiu Cocktail Week is seeing how various bars attempt to work with this strong, fickle spirit. Most of the cocktails this week do their best to mask the bitter-burnt flavours of the baijiu to focus on the flowery sweetness of the spirit.

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Demon, Wise, and Partner’s “600th Monkey”

Our first stop is at Demon, Wise, and Partners, in City. The 600th Monkey mixes Baijiu with Admiral Rodney rum, house Falernum, and the DWP shrub, made with honey vinegar, peanuts and vanilla pepper.

In typical DWP style, the cocktail is particularly dry and strong. Beginning with the burnt Baijiu flavour, the cocktail becomes very light with hints of vanilla, then a sudden hard punch of coffee. The finish seems to have hints of pepper, tropical fruit, and peanuts, finally with a long dry tingle. You really want to take your time with this drink, taking a big gulp will burn. The Hoodooist certainly enjoyed this drink, but it is one for specialised taste for the dry and bitter.

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68 and Boston’s “Pixiu”

The newly opened 68 & Boston gave us the Pixiu: Shui Jing Fang baijiu with Liquor 43, dark crème de cacao, Bob’s Chocolate Bitters, and strangely: Mount Gay Black Barrel rum. A salted caramel rim and chocolate pieces to garnish.

A beautifully presented cocktail – it looks gorgeous – the Pixiu makes the mistake of attempting to mask the Baijiu’s flavour instead of complementing or encouraging it. By going into the direction of chocolate sweetness, the Baijiu wars against the flavour of the cocktail.

Not going for citrus leaves a powerful clanging aroma of rum and baijiu on the nose, with a smooth caramel mouthfeel. The initial caramel from the rim is followed the by the cocktail’s noisy, infuriating mix of sweet, herbal, bitter, over-sugared, baccano of conflicting flavours. This unfortunate drink tastes like licking a bedsore. Ointment and all.

Feeling personally victimised by this drink, this is the Regina George of cocktails.

Bo Drake Soho

Bo Drake’s “Dragon’s Claw”

Next door, Bo Drake was crazy busy on a Friday. Their Dragon’s Claw was one of the more unique: Baijiu, agave nectar, elderflower, lemon and lime, hopped grapefruit bitters and lime zest – garnished with candied hibiscus and grapefruit slice.

The drink could best be described as mellowing the baijiu enough to drink it, while appreciating the entire range of flavours it presents when drunk neat – which is what made it unique through the day where other bars attempted to mask aspects of the drinks to suit the cocktail. The nectar and hopped grapefruit bitters contributed to a silkier mouthfeel. Surprisingly, one tasted the bitters more strongly than the elderflower (Thankfully, I think).

A great way to really get into Baijiu without throwing back a shot of it.

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Ping Pong’s “Dizzy Monkey”

The dim sum chain, Ping Pong, presents us with the Dizzy Monkey: Baijiu is mixed with Monkey Shoulder whisky, Hedonist cognac, triple sec, lemon juice, home-made spiced vanilla syrup, and shock inducing Electric Daisy flower rim.

This is one complicated cocktail. A friend and I had two completely different opinions on the drink, they loved the intense, very intense, citrus of the cocktail along with the powerful earthiness of the Baijiu – the Hoodooist however, could not comprehend the bizarre mix of flavours. This cocktail is targeting directly major citrus fans, the same way that the Demon, Wise, and Partners’ cocktail particularly targeted fans of dry, bitter cocktails.

The shocking tingle of the garnish was major fun though!

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The Hide’s “Darling Monkey Nutter”

Our final stop on the Baijiu Cocktail Week crawl is the Hide Bar, Bermondsey. Now, this was probably the best of the cocktails we’ve tried so far.

The Darling Monkey Nutter mixes Baijiu with a South African Chenin Blanc and monkey nut shrub made with peanuts, PX Sherry, and lemon thyme. A strange combo for sure, the nose is distinctly the burnt rice of the Baijiu, and towards the end slightly nutty and citrus. Upon the first sip, immediately you get the earthy flavour from the Baijiu, followed by a powerful citrus from the lemon thyme, the slight fruitiness of the wine, and finally a long, sweet, nutty finish.

This light, silky cocktail gets smokier as time goes on. With wonderful service from Emanuele and Francesco, the slightly sweet and earthy cocktail is definitely a treat you must enjoy this week.

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Get thyself an Uber.

Baijiu Cocktail Week is certainly one of the more enticing events of the London drinks scene, and it’s always good to see a spirit break through in London. Though an acquired taste neat, it probably is best drunk that way between courses of a tradition Chinese meal, since it’s use in cocktails is incredibly challenging.

However, the various bars did show how different aspects of the complex spirit can be highlighted with the right ingredients. Bo Drake showed us a palatable way for newbies to enjoy the entire spectrum of the spirit’s complexity. The Hide presented a soft, silky cocktail emphasising Baijiu’s sweeter flavours; whereas the Ping Pong had the burnt-bitter flavour balanced and softened with its citrus and herbal cousins.

Certainly a complex drink that demands further study in the London drink scene, I wish you all a fantastic Baijiu Cocktail Week and Happy Lunar New Year!

Baijiu Cocktail Week 2016, London
5th – 14th February 

http://www.baijiucocktailweek.co.uk/

Angostura Rum Tasting @ Heddon St. Kitchen, Piccadilly

Gordon Ramsey’s Heddon Street Kitchen lounges over two floors of dark wood and low lighting – and the upper floor hosts a small choice of bar seats where a range of Angostura Rums were presented for tasting in the company of UK Angostura Ambassador, Sean Duprey.

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting
Easily the most popular of the exports from the Trinidadian House of Angostura is their range of rum-based bitters – the classic Angostura Bitters are easily the most recognisable aromatic bitters across the globe, and one can’t imagine even the the smallest or youngest of cocktail bars functioning without a good stock of the spicy secret concoction. More surprising are the other uses of the classic bitters: from helping with hangovers when dashed on lime the morning after, to glazes and cooking – something that hadn’t even crossed my mind. Living in it’s brother’s shadow, the zesty Orange Bitters are always handy in a pinch for an Old Fashioned when out of Angostura Bitters.

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

Onto the rums!

Vanilla and banana wafts in with the youngest of the HoA range: The Angostura Reserva spends three years in white oak barrels, the rum is charcoal filtered to remove any traces of colour to produce a creamy, clear rum that is best used in cocktails with it’s unobtrusive light flavours, and that neat it has a rather sharp bite.

Classic for a Daiquiri with a dash or two of Angostura Bitters to take the edge of the citrus.

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

 

 

The Angostura 5 year brings in a bit of colour – a more demanding rum, the vanilla bursts into spices and oak, with cocoa hints in the warm finish.

You could certainly turn to sipping this rum, but personally, this is more fun for slightly more indulgent variations of the cocktails one would make for the previous Angostura Reserva.

 

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting
The black treacle nose really stands out in the Angostura 7 year rum! Sweeter that the last, dark chocolate bursts in with a bang, along with coffee and dark sugar flavours. Creamy and easy to sip, a long finish of toffee and custard lingers behind.

Richer and darker makes this a fitting after dinner rum.

 

 

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

 

 

The Angostura 1919 gets its name from the burning down of the Govt Rum Bond in 1932, only to find rum from 1919 filled in its remaining charred casks.

Ages in bourbon barrels, we find spicier and more tropical flavours, including something quite cola-like, along with the vanilla and powerful ginger. Allspice and vanilla/molasses finish is long on this one!

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting
The Angostura 1824 moves around a lot – spending 12 years in charred oak casks, then blended and recasked for a much smoother, richer rum than the 1919.

Lending some tobacco to the vanilla and custard flavours makes this a fantastic rum to sip with a cigar on a cold day. Coats smoothly with a little bite and some good kick, this is one enjoyable rum!

 

 

Heddon Street Angostura Rum Tasting

 

Finally, the Angostura No.1, Second Edition. The name might be a mouthful, but it’s worth it.

Each release of the Angostura No.1 spends some time in traditional American oak casks (the first 10, here) before being recasked into another cask that previously held another spirit – the second release of the No.1 is then filled into a once-used French oak Cognac cask for its final 6 years of aging – lending to it many nutty and dried fruit flavours associated with cognac. Each release will find the rum stored in a different spirits’ casks.

This is one hell of a beautiful rum. The nose is exuberant and floral, with hints of macadamia and vanilla. At first sip, the incredible smoothness of the rum coats the palate delicately, with bursts of fig and long finishes of dried fruit and vanilla.

An absolutely gorgeous limited edition drop.

Heddon cocktails

Here at Heddon Street Kitchen, Angostura displayed their incredible variety and versatility when it comes to producing this popular molasses spirit. With a pour for every occasion from light daytime sips to late night indulgent pours, serves can also come straight from a balloon glass with a cigar in the winter.

An excellent range of rums from the House of Angostura.

 

Thanks to,

Angostura Rum

http://www.angostura.com/

and,

Heddon St. Kitchen

3–9 Heddon St, Piccadilly
London W1B 4BE

https://www.gordonramsayrestaurants.com/heddon-street-kitchen/

Aberlour Whisky Tasting @ Phonica Records, Soho

Soho’s Phonica Records has become bit of a liquor lover’s hotspot lately: earlier this month it hosted the LCW World Class Bar, and this week, home to multi-award-winning single malt whisky distillery, Aberlour.

How does whisky figure into Soho’s iconic vinyl store? Aberlour has worked with collector and restorer Bill Bollman to bring to Phonica one of the last two working early 20th Century Voice-O-Graphs!

A piece of living history, “The booth in question has been extensively restored by Bill, and the wood panelled sides and interior are steeped in history- like casks of whisky maturing in a warehouse.”

The vintage 1947 Voice-O-Graph is far more than simple novelty, or an archaic piece of recording history, but an item made from experience, the walls soaked with the memories of those who have used it.”

Booths once house in arcades and diners across the USA, the Voice-O-Graph records a minute long message in the booth to print recordings of everything from simple messages, toasts, birthday messages – to more poignant prayers and love sent to children at war overseas, with the most common war-recordings being of variations of ‘You Are My Sunshine’. History, memories both joyful and moving, emanated from the still functioning machinery that once were common in North American scenery.

Aberlour Phonica Records Voiceograph Whisky Scotch

Before we have a closer look at the Voice-O-Graph, Aberlour International Ambassador, Alex Robertson, and spirits writer, Neil Ridley, walk us through the Aberlour expressions that scored an impressive gold medal each at the International Spirits Challenge 2014.

Aberlour Phonica Records Voiceograph Whisky Scotch

After a spectacularly crafted Old Fashioned, the tasting begins: a multisensory experience, Aberlour’s night at Phonica paired each whisky to vinyl tracks.

Beginning with the Aberlour 12 year (Double Cask Matured), a light, red apple nose opens to a palate of similar fruit along with classic toffee, followed by a wash of rich chocolate – ending with a warm cinnamon and ginger finish. A very Autumnal, fitting, dram this season.

After that delightful whisky, the 16 year (Double Cask Matured, gold medal winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2015) was paired with the gorgeous vocals and choir of ‘Shine On’ by Tallulah Rendall. A creamier whisky, its nose is packed with raisins and even a floral character – a fantastic balance of the double wood casks. The palate is smoother than the 12 year, full with plum and raisin sherried flavours balanced against spicy, floral flavours.

Aberlour Phonica Records Voiceograph Whisky Scotch

Now the 18 year (Double Cask Matured, gold medal winner at the 2014 International Wine and Spirit Competition) is a massive step up from the 16 year (for the Hoodooist anyway): A gorgeous nose of butterscotch, vanilla icecream, toffee and peaches. The palate opens with cream and stone fruit, and gradually unveils darker, heavier flavours with oak and leather, with a vein of honey running through – ending with a long, warm, sugared finish.

Not expecting that beautiful whisky to be outdone, one was surprised what a stunner the final Aberlour A’bunadh (double gold winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2015) was, served along with the resonating voice of Johnny Cash. A classic sherry-heavy whisky, the Oloroso butts impart those orange and Xmas spices notes to the nose. The palate is indulgent, and wintery – dark chocolate, cherries, lots of dry fruit and warm spice. Being cask strength, the finish is powerful and lasting, bittersweet and spicy. A favourite. Adore this whisky.

Concluding the tasting, musician Johnny Flynn takes to the Voice-O-Graph to record an upcoming single, printed onto disc with the Voice-O-Graph’s distinct graininess and vintage nostalgia (a song I’m looking forward to hearing again).

Entering the Voice-O-Graph himself, the Hoodooist is overcome with a feeling of nostalgia for a time he’d never known himself (heavens, this sounds so pretentiously Lynch) – but the sense of everyone that had been in that booth, recording everything from a birthday song to a prayer to hear their son come back home from the war was overwhelming. Especially after hearing a message from a mother to dispatched son just moments earlier.

A unique, unmissable experience that recording on one’s phone cannot be compared to.

In a few moments, holding the recorded disc in one hand, and a brightly sherried Aberlour expression in the other, this was an experience he was glad to be a part of – and you can too!

The Voice-O-Graph has taken up residency at Phonica Records this October 2015, where consumers have the opportunity to enjoy a dram of Aberlour 12 Year Old as they record their experiences on the Voice-o-Graph instore at Phonica Records during the following times for as long as daily vinyl stocks last:

  • 22nd – 23rd & 29th – 30th October from 5pm -7pm
  • 24th & 31st October from 4pm – 6pm

Fruit, chocolate, spice in a dram, inside a piece of living history – this is an experience that absolutely cannot be missed this Autumn season. Enjoy what is #MadeFromExperience with the Voice-O-Graph and Aberlour Whisky this October at Phonica Records, Soho.

Your future vinyl-owning-self will thank you.

Phonica Records

51 Poland St, Soho,
London W1F 7LZ

http://www.phonicarecords.com/

TICKET GIVEAWAY! License to Escape with Octopus Inc!

Another giveaway, guys!

Need something exciting to do for the weekend?

Highball Hoodoo has just the exercise in villainy for you!

Working alongside Yelp! London, Highball Hoodoo has TWO tickets to giveaway for 16th October!

Escape Game Giveaway Win Octopus Inc

OCTOPUS Inc. (the Organised Consortium of Troublemakers and Other Perpetrators of Underhand Sneakiness Incorporated) are currently hiring new henchmen as part of a recruitment drive – and are looking for the best of the best – or should we say the worst of the worst – to join our team and cause chaos throughout the land.

Your acts of sneakiness have been noted and we are impressed with your audacity and cunning, but do not worry my villainous friends, your secrets are safe with us as long as you report to your prospective new Evil MasterMind in his underground lair for your six basic aptitude tests.

Six Rooms – Six Tests – You must escape them all to complete the mission within 30 minutes. There will also be an optional outdoor mission courtesy of CITY DASH should you wish to accept. Can you make it out in time? Or alive? We shall see.

Ultimate Respect and Prizes in store for the fastest teams of the night.

To WIN, all you have to do is follow Highball Hoodoo on Twitter at@HighballHoodoo and retweet this post:

And the winner will be announced on the 15th of October!

And that’s all you have to do for a chance to win VIP tickets to Octopus Inc.’s LICENSE TO ESCAPE!

Perhaps you can attend the training in your finest henchman attire. And be ready for anything. Things may get a little… dicey.

— EXTRA INFORMATION —

– Over 18’s only

– The game In total will take around 60 minutes to complete – you may need to wait for your time slot. They’ll be a free drink on arrival and bar area to hang out in with live leader board.

– They’ll be music, indoor and outdoor games as well as a cash bar, plus drinks from Double Dutch Drinks.

– At least one of your team will need a fully charged smart phone with the Yelp App for parts of the evening. If you don’t have it, make sure to download it now.

Best of luck, Tweeters!

Tequila Fest 2015 Preview @ Barrio East

Though the wide-spread drinking of tequila and the recent emergence of Mezcalerias like Agaveria El Nivel, one of the Hoodooist’s favourite openings 0f 2014, are known well enough, a connoisseurial culture of the spirit never completely blossomed in the Isles. “This is a no salt or lime zone”, stresses Festival organiser Eduardo Gomez, as we grab our tasting cups.

After last year’s major success, TequilaFest 2015 is not an event to be missed

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Hosted at Barrio East, Shoreditch (keep an eye out for their next Brixton opening, Barrio South), the press preview brought forward a spectacular crowd to taste a large variety of tequilas & mezcals. A few fantastic discoveries in the world of agave for the Hoodooist, such as Meteoro‘s pure Espadin mezcal – it even comes with a backstory – a crater from a crashed meteor in Oaxaca became the cooking spot for this mezcal’s agave. Delightfully smooth, the Meteoro Joven is a fantastic sipping tequila. Bold, muscling in with powerful smokiness and a bright trail left behind, it lives up to it’s media campaign, #ItFellFromTheSky.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Another of the TequilaFest newcomers to expect will be agave giant Patron with their Silver, Reposado, Anejo and XO Cafe range – and in a few days will be unleashing their Incendio chilli-chocolate tequila onto #Drinkstagram tags everywhere.

Herencia de Plata has entered the ring as well, with their bright, peppery range, and can carry it’s weight in combat with the other stars of the show.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

Expect to see old reliables like Ocho, who have unveiled their Curado – a Blanco tequila that has been infused with agave – carrying their Blanco’s feel and kick, with a fruity wave of agave, addictive this one.

Stars of last year are back, from the smoky caramel Espadin San Cosme mezcal, to classic Altos and Siete Misterios Espadin, with that spicy, earthy smokiness and sugary dried fruit (so, so beautiful). And you certainly can’t go wrong with a Del Maguey Tommy’s Margarita.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

After the food provided by Barrio East was demolished by the now slightly staggering clientele of the room, the Hoodooist realises that this year’s TequilaFest at Old Spitalfield Market is going to enormous in comparison to the previous year – this is an event he – and you – should certainly not miss.

Tequila TequilaFest Mezcal London Mexico

“The Tequila Fest will educate you in the customs of production and consumption and engulf you in the taste, smells, sounds and sights of true Mexico. There are few spirits with a more rich and fascinating lineage. Get to grips with the technical jargon, the process of distillation and the bounty of care that goes into every single bottle.” Also featuring blind tastings, cocktail tutorials and masterclasses, “Real tequila.”

http://www.tequilafest.co.uk/